tv Stories of Women Veterans CSPAN December 30, 2013 4:20am-6:01am EST
there in the winter of 2010, and the vegetation is very bare during the winter in the south. the enemy was relatively quiet. there we got into the spring of 2010, the vegetation starts to come back. this is an area where growing poppy was really important to the local economy. it also helped to give the foreign fighters cover and concealment to be able to move freely through southern afghanistan. so, i went out on a flight with one of our pilots. wanted me to see what they saw and how much they could actually detect.
from up in their aircraft and flying fast. we flew through there and it was incredible. there were areas where these were five feet high. when the enemy has the advantage of having lived there forever. the friendly forces have a disadvantage in that they get there and there are these five foot high grape rows they have to navigate over that the enemies have to navigate through. we learned from the summer months of heavy fighting to crack the code on how the enemy is operating. we got into the fall were the vegetation started to die out and we realize through almost a full year there that the enemy had these underground tunnels and that there were huge catch flights. some was with medical supplies. some was with weapons, ammunition, and we realized that there were multiple firing
positions -- what we thought were multiple firing positions were just the enemy navigating underground. we had to build the relationship with the ground the unit. we said this is what we think is going to happen at this location because last spring we saw this and now we're realizing they are navigating from one position to the next underground. it was one enemy fighter. the ground units started to trust us through this nearly year-long relationship we established, so they started going and exploiting the underground sites and pulling a lot of ammunition out of -- potentially pulling it out of enemy hands. we started to see success there, and it was really nice to feel like the work we had been doing, that it taken so long, was actually paying off. every time we had either an aircraft that was shot at or hit or -- you sit in an operations
center, which is most of the and there i was, soldiers and analysts that works for me would day in and day out look at reporting. to them, it was just statistics, as it came in, and, to them, it was just statistics. this unit ran into ied's and lost five people. that's devastating to a small unit. one loss is catastrophic, you can imagine what it is more than that. every time this would happen, we would come back and it would make it more real for us in the center sitting behind computers it felt more like a videogame than reality. we stopped -- we started to question, are we sending these people into harm's way? did we miss something? to see the success of these operations and pulling ammunition out of enemy hands
was a really rewarding moment for us. it was a way to keep my soldiers and analysts engaged and support the guys and gals that were going outside the wire every day. it also helped to build the confidence in what we were doing. we felt that relationship was really important so that intelligence would actually drive operations. >> interesting. can we now turn to talk a little bit about the skills you learned and how you transitioned into civilian life? nicole, can you talk a bit about what you fell you gained from your experience and how your transition went? >> my story is a very strange arc. i always consider it as a continuous, build upon and read -- andread transforming
re-transforming myself. i don't want to say i didn't learn any skills. it reinforced who i am as a person, being out in iraq. again, my job position in the psychological connections to my job position, i got to see many aspects of iraqi people and my fellow soldiers in the military. the tricks that played on my mind was very difficult, even now, to explain to many people. i think one of the things that helped me cope and filter out and decipher, constantly modify my perception about my relationship to my deployment was that i am an avid reader. i am an avid writer.
and the skill of doing my job. the routine of that, helped keep me sane in that situation. it was very difficult for me because, again, being the supply, i got to stay behind a great deal, but at the same time, the fact that there were so many people in my unit constantly tasked out to different portions of the military, like, we supported tankers and infantrymen, and i had many friends that were medics. they were constantly sent out on missions, and then we had iraqis come in and they had jobs on our post, while we were stationed there, so they ran the laundromats and built the café. it was a strange dichotomy because on one hand you see the situation as this is the enemy
and we are here to liberate. but on the other hand, you see the position of there are people here who are not the enemy who are of this collective and this ethnicity that look like me, being an african american woman, so there was a social aspect there. that are risking their lives to feed their families, to feed their children, and share this experience with me in a way that you come to the states, and for many other soldiers in the coalition, europe or wherever they were stationed from, they cannot explain that to their civilian counterparts, whether it be their families, their spouses or their children. i think that placed a huge psychological burden upon me for many years. how do you explain this
unique experience to people that do not want to hear all the bad? they want to hear you fought for your country, you are home, you are safe, you are alive. there is so much gray and in between. i was very young. i turned 23 in iraq. i had a birthday. i had to celebrate my birthday in a situation that was constantly reminding me of my own mortality. i had my daughter in march of 2003 and redeployed to germany in april of 2003. i met up with my unit in iraq in july of 2003. i did not see my daughter until nine months later. the kind of personal separation and personal experience, that really placed a huge
psychological burden upon me because it is such a remote experience. there was a lot of gray for me. coming back home, i really wanted to start where i thought i had left off. i had a lot of college friends around me and they would never -- they wanted me to talk about my experience in the military and i pretty much was like no, let's just pick up where we left off. for many years, that's how i dealt with it. these are my experiences. i kept them in a box, and this was the person i wanted to be again. transforming from that and realizing that life had gone on, and you are a mother now and not the young girl that went away -- even though i was much older than a lot of the enlistees i knew. i came in at 20 and got out and turned 24.
there were so many dynamics of change that happened in that short span of time. it took me so many years to digest it and to deal with this concept of ptsd and depression and anxiety, and all of these labels for mental illness when it really is about a person having a dynamic experience that is very convoluted and cannot be explained as good or bad, living with ambiguity, and realizing that there is so much that is -- america is really isolated, culturally, to this concept of war, more than any other country in the world, in my experience. going back into school, going into a routine and reestablishing my connections to my older self, who i was and my interest, and combining that s, and thew experience
confusion of it all, and is -- and just building upon that as a person, that is where the transition, the positivity of the transition really began, but that took 10 years. it took 10 years, and i was a lot of downward slope -- it was a lot of downward slope between those 10 years and the acceptance of help from the harlem vet center where i still receive treatment. building a support system, and realizing that -- where a lot of my anger came from, and a lot of these concepts of misunderstanding, and realizing that there are going to be people who want to listen but they are not going to want to hear everything, and that's ok too, but being willing to tell it anyway. so future generations like my daughter won't just read a
paragraph about iraq and think that is the whole story. so, i think now it is going on about 11 years since my enlistment. it has really been a journey. and realizing that there is nothing about that experience, not labeling a good or bad, but saying this is my perspective and this is a part of me, and i am not necessarily proud of my position in the war, but i am proud of the person that has come out of my perspective from that experience. >> as you say, you have learned to live with that. that ambiguity. and then do your writing and process it that way. we will talk about that, i would like to ask you more about that. teresa, can you talk a little bit more about your leadership
skills that you learned and then your transition? >> absolutely. when i joined rotc i was a quiet kid. i stayed quiet pretty much until i had to lead large groups of people. when i became a platoon commander in iraq. i got plunked down into deployment. i deployed after being in my unit for about four weeks. the first day i showed up, my commander was like great, welcome aboard, don't unpack, we are leaving soon. i got over there and they had shuffled officers because they were short staffed. i did not even know i would be leading to platoons of marines until i stuck my boots in the sand. what i learned over there was how to talk to anybody, because i grew up kind of nerdy and i was kind of quiet. i was used to talking about a lot of math and physical stuff, communicating architectures and things like that, but i was leading people. i had to talk to my marines. everybody from the 18-year-old
whose already married with a pregnant wife to my 35-year-old senior enlisted who would give me advice on this is what we are supposed to do next and i would be like, great, thanks, and then go tell the rest of the platoon, this is what we are doing now, being able to put your ear to the ground and listen. gather information and talk to your troops, your fellow officers, and everybody around you. being able to digest that and come up with a plan of action and then be able to tell everybody what to do and execute afterward was something i learned during that compressed period of deployment, because when you are doing all the training, yeah, it is kind of real, but nobody is actually firing at you. there is not all that pressure. that was a huge thing i learned over there. just to be able to be comfortable to walk into a room
and her allies everybody in there is human -- and realize that everybody in there is human. you're going to have to work together and talk to each other. so after the deployment i served in california in the marines for two more years. and then i got out and went to graduate school. i was in phd program that i have since finished. being around people after the marine corps who were like four years younger than me and right out of college and going to school right afterward was really difficult for me for the first few years. i had to be a teaching assistant, and it turns out that undergrads don't salute. [laughter] funny thing. who knew? that was really hard because i would want to reach across the desk and choke the kid and then realize that would get me arrested. in memory in court -- you can do a lot. i never did that -- in the marine corps, you can do a lot.
i never did that, though. it took me a few years to dial down the pressure, and the pressure on me, to. in the military, you are all about doing the mission, dig through the night lay the cable, , whatever you have to do. in grad school, i would look for people to tell me what to do, and that is not the point of doing scientific research. the point is to learn what the science has to tell you. it was hard to make friends initially. bit by bit, i started making friends and my graduate program. but that only happened after i came forward a little bit with my story and started confiding in my class mates about what had happened in my deployment, the experiences i had had, what it was like to be on a base. finding people i could really trust. one of my best friends in my program was an army officer
getting a masters in physics to go back and teach at west point. he was still on active duty and we became friends. from there, i developed a good cadre of people to hang out with, and from there, that helped a lot. but, yes, the writing has helped too, but i gather we will talk about that in a future question. >> rebekah. >> learning how to blow stuff up does not really translate to civilian life. what i gained most from it was a perspective adjustment of sorts. i grew up pretty sheltered. i have been an over achiever. what i learned was how to chill out, but even that is hard. i just started graduate school and i am taking four graduate level classes and him up to here with papers due on monday and tuesday. >> good luck.
>> that has been, as you are saying, there was kind of a -- when i got back, i always kind of felt like an outlier. being a woman in and of itself is hard enough, but being a woman in an environment where you don't see other women, ever. and i kind of got dealt a bad hand as far as units go. my first commander and first sergeant or not nice people. -- were not nice people. i had a pretty crappy experience and so many things i dealt with from the man that i worked with. one of the things i learned, and it was a hard lesson, but well learned, was that i can take care of myself. i don't need anybody. that was definitely one part of it, but on the flipside of that, part of that, too, is that i learned that i do need people. and actually coming to the realization that i have to be willing to accept help sometimes and it isn't just about me.
yes, i can do my damnedest to get through things on my own, and i don't need any assistance, but when it came down to it, i really did need assistance. i needed help. i was unemployed and bouncing from couch to couch for quite some time and it was really tough for me to look at my best friend and be like, hey dude, can i come home with you for six months? i need a place to stay. and he would be like here's a couple hundred dollars. you need to get back to the gym to work out. i am cool.o, no, i am buying you a gym membership, go to the gym. just being able to look at people and say thank you without having to say anything else or feeling like i had to apologize for where i was at, i still a lot of times feel like i am an outlier. i did not have a very good experience. a lot of times i do not relate
well to veterans. a lot of times i am very wary of veterans because i was burned badly by the people i worked with so i am very sensitive to people who tell me they are veterans. my walls go up and i act tough. but i got better. there's kind of that play in that dynamic. i moved here for a job about two and half years ago. i love new york city. i want to stay, and i found roller derby. for me, that has been a little bit of the place, but at the same time, i'm a roller derby referee, so i am still on the fringe in a manner of speaking. i have to learn how to navigate coming out of the fringe in a sense. that is been interesting, and doing it completely, 100% on your own, having to navigate
that and then figuring out, i can't do this on my own. it is about finding a path. it is a journey. every day reinventing yourself sometimes, where you've been, where you're now, and where you want to go. , i want to just, specifically ask you, because when you came back you joined the class-action suit against rumsfeld. for those of you who don't know, there was a class-action suit against defense secretary gates and the pentagon for not taking note of the sexual harassment charges. and that women had been sexually harassed. 17 former and current members of the military sued, claiming that this behavior, this not paying
attention by the pentagon had led to violence against women being tolerated. the suit was dismissed, and then in the spring of this year you testified in front of the senate armed services committee. and you discussed your experience of being raped in afghanistan and your feelings about the military criminal justice system and i wanted to just ask you about your decision. these were big steps to come forward, to go public, and to testify about your experience. can you talk about this decision, and your decision to become an advocate? for changes in the military justice system. >> like i said, my experience is not the experience of all women. i got dealt a bad hand. just because i had a bad
experience in the military does not mean that everyone else had. sometimes i feel like in the talk around this issue of sexual violence in the military, a lot of the get stereotyped. i try to debunk that. i am like yes, there are dynamics in the military that make this an issue that is challenging to deal with, but that does not mean that everyone acts this way. there are good people in the military. there are good men. there are good women. that being said, the bad apples that are in the military have a lot of leeway to get away with the crap they get away with because of the way it is set up. i think that dynamic is difficult when you are trying to talk about how do we fix this, how do we adjust it, how do we talk about it? is it gendered. is it not gendered. when i got back, yeah, i was raped by a guy i worked with a week before i came back from afghanistan. i initially decided i was not
going to say anything, i just wanted to get out of the military and move on with my life. now the military has two types of reporting. you can do a restricted report or an unrestricted report. in the end, i did a restricted report, which basically just makes you a statistic. nothing really happens. after that, i got out of the military, i did not want to talk about it. just wanted to move on and figure myself out. i was approached by this legal team. in the end, the approach was to doctrine the feres where you cannot sue the military for anything and does not hold the military accountable for anything. under the premise that most of the time, when you're suing the military or trying to sue the military, they usually come back with the idea that you cannot sue us because this is something that relates to military service or there is a function of the military environment, or
, in the case of when this suit -- they sued the military because they gave the guys lsd without permission. and they said no, we gave you lsd to see what would happen in a military environment and this has a function it is serving. so rape serves no function. in fact, the military says they have a zero tolerance policy. as was mentioned, it has been thrown out. one of my biggest irks of the whole thing is the judge basically called it a hazard of service. rape is a hazard of service. that is written in the legal documents that were handed down by the judge. again, the whole idea is -- when i first decided to speak about this, it happened unexpectedly. i signed on to this lawsuit as
one of many participants and then got thrust into the media spotlight kind of last-minute. they called me on a friday and said can you come film with tbs and i was like no, probably not, why? they were like, well, had somebody drop out. and i was like, i have to take care of kids. they put me on a flight, did the interview, put me on a flight and flew me home. on cbs ont aired tuesday morning and then they dropped the lawsuit about an hour after the segment aired, which then kind of pushed me into a whirlwind of stuff. as a result, i ended up working for an organization here in the city that deals specifically with the issue of sexual violence in the military and trying to adjust policy. it has been interesting because it has been about three years since i started speaking publicly about the issue, and there has been a major uptick in media coverage of awareness
around this issue of men speaking out about their experiences as well. a lot of you probably heard if you heard about these types of things, so jill brand -- senator senatornd -- gillibrand introduced a proposal to take sexual assaults out of the chain of command. i support this because an infantry commander is not a lawyer and he is probably dealing with the accused and the accuser in their unit. and you cannot be objective in those situations. again, without going into too much detail, there definitely needs to be something that gets done, and the only way you can change the military is literally through an act of congress. and the ndaa. so, these types of things have been in the works for a while. people ask about the combat excludes them -- the combat
exclusion policy was repealed this year. doesn't that just mean more women are going to get raped? no, it does not. diversity and the military is a good thing. women are just as capable of doing the things men do, and the standards need to be set. i honestly believe the leadership you have is where the line is going to be drawn. good leadership, this kind of stuff doesn't happen. bad leadership, anything goes. and you have to hold people accountable for their choices. that includes leadership that chooses to sweep this under the ride and pretend it doesn't happen. but again, my perspectives are, i still have very strong feelings about the military. i believe it was a good thing for me. there is a lot of cognitive dissonance there. i still cannot do the veterans day parade. i cannot do it. there is an overwhelming sense and emotion, but this.
and i cannot reconcile that. may be i will get over that one day. i still feel very strongly, those who choose the military should have the best experience possible. there is a lot the military can offer, your views on war aside. people choose for different reasons. whether we agree with those reasons or not, people should be able to step into the military, serve with honor and come out of person ont a better the other end without having to violence.sexual and if there is violence, those people should be rightly dealt with. we have some work to do, but social change takes time and we are doing it. i think we are getting there. >> can i piggyback on a lot of what she said? like you, i was raped in iraq. for seven years, i suppressed
it. i relabeled it. i never reported it to my unit. my unit did not have my back on many issues, so i knew the minute -- if i decided to even say hey, i was raped. this concept of nonviolent rape does not exist in people's minds. it is an oxymoron, so that dynamic, i was like, look, i am in it. i have to get out. i have to make choices and sacrifices. i constructed my brain to think, well, it was just sex that i didn't like. for many years, several years, you know, i just harbored this resentment and all these emotions and all this pain, and i even got into a relationship that spiraled really downward.
and for many years the depression got worse, where it would go from three days of like, hey, i am just laying in bed for no reason to six months of geez, what did i do for six months? and this overwhelming cloud of sadness the blocked everything, and i can't recall six months of my life. it went from six months to a year and a year to another year, and it got to the point where in 2010, my depression got so bad my apartment was a mess, and i literally -- my daughter was taken away by acs. she was removed from my home for six months. it literally was so bad for me that suicide was a huge option. and then, instead of that, you know, the resiliency of people is amazing, and my resiliency to
say no, you know, i am not a bad person because these things happen to me. to start digging into ask for help, and for help to actually be there -- i think one of the biggest issues with military sexual violence in the military, especially when i came back, is that there was no help. everybody was like ok, you have ptsd, but mst wasn't even considered back then. it took seven years for the program i went to in new jersey for women who suffered mst, and for it to just be women who suffered from mst and were not just part of the population of ptsd to come about. seven years. just for the dialogue to happen, it was almost a decade.
and for these issues to take precedent in the eyes of the media is still a fight, because women are constantly associated with rape in the media, with sexual assault in the media, and then when you are in the military it's like, well, it's a man's world, you had better suck it up. just the dialogue of saying rape is wrong. and rape does not just happen to women. there were many male soldiers who experienced sexual assault and sexual violence who have not come out at all because of the dynamic of well, you are a man, this doesn't happen to men. so the misogyny and the stereotypes in getting rid of these things and gendering rape is still a dialogue that needs to happen.
i read in "the new york times, an article about women who came out and said i was raped in my unit, and every single woman in that article experienced some type of blame and shame. this is not to say every woman in the military is going to get raped. absolutely not. it is just saying that this culture has been placed in a hidden light, and it is unfair -- i mean, we would not tolerate this in the civilian world. it is not tolerated. why is it in the military covered up and protected? that is a dynamic i never understood, and it does not translate. for pioneers like you to sit there and say hey, i am going to talk about this. it is uncomfortable, and i totally understand, when you're just a normal person and you get thrust into this situation you never asked for, that is the hardest thing to do. that in itself is bravery.
these are just things that i challenge people, civilians and veterans alike, and people still in the military, to contemplate. >> i think by talking about these things and addressing them and doing advocacy work around them, you are going to change. it is going to be slow, but you are going to change the narrative. abouted to ask raeanne your transition, and then i want to talk about your creative works and how your writing has helped you deal with some of these things. >> transition is very near and dear to my heart right now. i have only been out a year, last october. my husband, who is sitting out
here today, he is an army vet. everyone is looking for you, so you can raise your hand. he is right there in the fourth row. we met in the military and decided to get out and wanted to pursue business school. he was accepted to columbia business school. i had a great experience in the army. i loved being a leader. i loved the people the most. there were a lot of skills that i acquired, and i loved it. but tom and i had goals together of a family and wanting to be co-located for longer than a few months. we had gone through the deployment after we first started dating. he was stationed in germany and then deployed to iraq for a year. three months later, i moved to fort campbell, kentucky, and the -- i was deployed to
afghanistan. monthoff of my three delay and his deployment, we knew that was at least 18 months apart. we came back from deployment. we had leaders who really worked with the organization to get us co-located, and we spent time together back at fort campbell. once tom got accepted to school, i decided to get out as well. so here i am in new york. i was from a small town in kentucky. had been in the military for seven years. loved what i was doing and now i needed to focus on transition. it really requires something. these ladies understand it. but i think it is really something that we tell the story of our transitions so the people who are not in new york city where veterans are able to speak and the civilian world wants to listen. to the rest of the country, i think there are a lot of veterans out there who feel isolated.
the military culture is very small, less than 1%. if veterans are not self identifying as veterans, and for various reasons, some don't, if they hear stories that are similar to theirs, i think they become more comfortable speaking out. i think that puts them on a path to a successful transition. hopefully building on the skills they acquired in the military. i think veterans are incredibly resilient just by virtue -- i am not sure if it's by virtue of the type of people who want to serve and feel called to serve or the experiences they have in the military that shape and mold them into the people they are. but i have learned that we are great at overcoming adversity. we are really good at working with people that are not too much like ourselves because of the dynamic of bringing people from all different walks of life together, and focusing on accomplishing a mission.
you have problem solvers. you have people who are really good at, under pressure, being able to make very difficult decisions using discretion. it is an incredible set of skills that veterans acquire through service and then they come into civilian life and feel alone, and i think the rest of society never gets to benefit from that. to be honest, you're paying our salary. i think it's important, i mean, if we can use the skills that you paid for, you can benefit as well. in the last year, i have been focused in transition on trying to sit and do some analysis of what skills do i have, who am i today because of the military? being able to speak to that and then being able to just find veterans who, you feel like you
have a common language. you can talk about -- use acronyms like ied and understand what they mean. and it feels good to tap into that comfort zone, but at the same time, it would be a disservice to our service if we did not reach out and challenge ourselves to get to know someone who is not a vet. i think that is how we start to bridge the gap between the services and the civilian population. through my time since deciding to join rotc until now, people have been very supportive, whether it was family members, friends, people at home who may be with war in and of itself,
but have been nothing but respectful of me and the time that i served. i think it is important that we talk about that and that we are able to feel welcomed when we come back or when we get out. it is a totally different lifestyle. i am learning that now. i will finish year with one -- i will finish here, but small one piece. somebody asked me, what is the biggest thing you have learned since transitioning, and this was more in a professional capacity. it was the idea that i could and let mygs to work hair down. confident in a job interview if my hair was pulled back and there were no wispy hairs flying. that it was -- that is what it was like in the military in a garrison environment. over about eight months on the
, job, my boss said she had noticed that i had transition to over the last year. she said i noticed you are wearing more colors. your hair is down. you're curling it now. she had no idea why. that was just a tiny piece of my transition that really shed some light on it. she was like oh, that is pretty cool. >> that is fantastic. are we ready to wrap up? to have a q&a. i am hoping that teresa and nicole can integrate some of the writing work they are doing. we want to make sure you know people are doing interesting experiencesh their and creative ways. >> i will bite the first bullet. thank you for joining us. saturdays bright, afternoon and you could be doing something else.
thank you for coming here and listening to our women warriors. i am the founder of the women veterans and families network. we do a couple different things. one thing we have been active on is connecting women veterans to the vast amount of services that are out here. realizeded that -- we that the city mayor's office has a lot of services to provide. and a lot of other nonprofits that want to help women. they are having a difficult time finding these female veterans. she did notaid, really affiliate with the veteran community. for us, we realize that not everyone wants to come out and reengage. one thing we realize is that there is a high statistic among female veterans who are
unemployed, who are homeless, who are single parents, divorcees. toughesthaving the time out of the transition process. that transcends all age groups. if you look at the outrageous statistics, much higher than their male peers. that is one of the reasons why we started our nonprofit. is on our board. she has had a phenomenal time in the military and it really helped her transition into the civilian world. because of her success, she wants to share that with female veterans so they will come and learn about these amazing services these organizations are providing. my question is, all of you had different experiences. it is not that different from your male peers. folks,listen to other there are tons of guys who worked in eod who talk about
picking up body parts and folks in telecommunications digging trenches. want to understand more. how would you go about reaching to those female veterans who do not want to talk about their experience? job ofe done a fantastic sharing your stories with everybody. >> i can talk -- i am pretty talking, too, when about my experiences. it took me a few years to open up to even my friends, let alone other veterans. one of the scariest experiences i had was less than a year ago, in february, walking into the veterans' writing workshop at nyu. it was my very first day there. i did not know what to expect. i did not know if we were going to share our writing. i had the feeling that all the
other veterans were going to judge me for what i had done or not done in the military. an attitude of acceptance is really important for any organization that is reaching out. the folks, both male and female, everybody was really cool. if you wanted to tell, that was cool. if you did not, that was fine, too. if you did not want to share your writing that day, you did not had who. -- have to. read, i was shaking as i it, that turned out ok and has been very therapeutic. experience was that i had a relationship with the mortuary affairs officer in my unit. a terrible idea, not the least of which because he was married. my relationship was consensual. writing about it has helped a whole lot. i think the attitude of
acceptance has been great. how do we answer? first of all, me and teresa were in the same workshop. to see another one in v -- another woman vet, that was amazing. yay, you keep it all inside. for me, one of the biggest that really encourage me to tackle this beast and redefine the idea of being a veteran. accepted my ace finances and i accepted -- i accepted my and the uniqueness
of my experiences from other veterans. and the questions that arose from that, too. you have to have self acceptance, that comes from time. what i encourage to civilians who are like how can we help veterans? just consider the idea that they are always around you, even if you don't know it. of giveuraging thought is universal. you are going through a hard situation. i do not know what it is, give it time. give it time and things change. your appearance changes. the way you look at the situation changes. your perspective changes. you grow. there is a lot of growth and suffering. people do not realize that. you have to give it time. i do not thinkns are encouraged to give it time.
a lot of people are like i'd need to know what happened to you now. i am interested now. there is an immediacy to the situation but transitions are gradual. there i'm notg saying anything mean to so much more to a person then saying ok, i want to hear your story, just tell me your story. well, right now i do not want to speak about it. like everything in life, you have to have strong roots to gro w into something and to blossom into something resilient and profound. give it time. we are always around. put that out there. somebody is going to eventually respond. >> i want to say one thing as to the whole veteran-civilian divide. i had this conversation on wednesday night with a girl who
was a therapist and works with substance abuse. she was like i only think veterans can help veterans. i would like, you are wrong. i am very adamant about this. everyone in this room has experienced something that i know nothing about. and i has experienced something that you know nothing about. that does not mean we cannot relate to each other as human beings. some of the best help i got was from civilians who were interested enough in trying to help me make transitions and be successful. that is like telling a therapist unless you have been raped you cannot work with rape victims. that does not hold in any psychotherapeutic setting. it is helpful when people want to understand military culture and try to empathize with these experiences. just because you are not a veteran does not you cannot help veterans, the friends with veterans, lend some guidance.
she whole concept of "veteran can only help veterans." 125% disagree. yes, there are ways i will relate to the women up here a little differently than those who have not been in the military. that does not mean i am not going to gain something from the other relationships and communities that i have built. i always throw that out there with people. something unique about having military service in your background. that does not mean we are our own little island to be left adrift forever and to never be acknowledged or to be, you know -- >> reintegrated. >> suck us back in. some time. sometimes civilians can be like we don't know what we are doing. we don't know, either, we will
figure it out together. we are on the same playing field. everyone is trying to find a way to meet and find a happy medium. the people i meet are the people that care. you showed up because you have a somewhat interesting but we had to say. what we had to say. >> that is a good starting point. may -- embrace that. there may be some awkward questions and hurt feelings when i say i am not interested in talking right now. you will say, what did i do wrong? the interaction -- without the -- there is going to be awkwardness and fumbling, but this is where it starts. closes at 6:00. i wish we had another hour to be able to have this conversation. this was truly an honor for us to have you all here. meg, i would like to invite you
to make some closing comments. >> can i yield my time to the person with his hand up? very briefly. >> very emotional. , the topic of the suicide rate. among veterans. what are some of your thoughts on how that could be approached? i think it is very important. >> maybe one person could answer that question. militaryt job in the was as a commander. i had soldiers -- we were focused from the top of the division down on how do we address this issue. it is happening throughout the military and across the country now.
unfortunately, the numbers are increasing. the way we tried to address that was through what we are saying today -- people talking. people talking who have had issues and have overcome those. soldiers, the people, realize they are not alone. that is a huge start. it has to be something embraced by the chain of command so that dialogue is something that becomes more common. any in any sector, in population -- if you talk about issues.ho had all of us, we all have our own set of issues. some have more support than others. the more it is a topic that is discussed rather than shunned, to think about taking your own life, people who talk about that -- it makes it more, you have more people who are committing suicide to come forward.
having the conversation that help is there and show them where resources are. when they do come forward, they are listened to. >> it is so common because everyone is carrying a weapon all the time. it is so easy to think about. nobody really talks about. if you're having a bad day, it is really easy to just have that spiral in your mind. right, having the dialogue that everyone has thought about it but nobody talks about it and a few people admit having thought about it, making that a community thing and empathizing with each other. giving the sense of acceptance and engagement is good. >> for me, when it comes to the subject of suicide, it is personal. i attempted twice after i got back. what really has ensured my survival is the fact --
definitely my work through our writing.ugh art and i could not say everything i wanted to say, but at least i got it out. uncomfortable to vocally talk. to keep a diary or journal and come back toy and it later. the encouragement of those alternatives really does help for me. topics are just too uncomfortable to share right away. you know, to come back and say hey, this is how i felt a few days ago. this is how i feel today. i am able to look at that and say those feelings passed. were not as resilient as i thought they would be. to be like this is one year ago, this is how i felt then. to look back on that -- it is real and on paper.
it is just as real as talking to somebody. it is not as powerful as keeping it inside. it is a healthy medium. creating artistically and being able to express artistically with a healthy medium for me that i was able to build on overtime. we have to stop. thank you to our panelists and thank you, everybody, for coming. [applause] >> [indiscernible] having women on the front lines. you.e every one of [indiscernible]
>> thank you so much. [applause] >> all this week, book tv is on prime time on c-span2. tonight, books about law and the court. coyle eastern, marcia talks about her book. at 9:30, thomas healy's "the dissent" looks at the first amendment. at 10:30, military prosecutions of terror suspects, "the terror courts." c-span3, american time.y tv is in prime
a look at the life of george washington beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern. 9:15 with aowed at look at his presidency. washington'sern, defeat in the battle of brandywine, fought during the early stages of the revolutionary war. this morning on c-span, q and a with radio talk show host hugh about his latest book. at 7:00 a.m. eastern, "washington journal" is live. ther, a portion from national consumer league's recent conference on identity theft and data security. ♪
>> this week on q&a, network host hugh hewitt discusses his latest book titled "the happiest life." >> hugh hewitt and your latest book the happeniest life, you said it's the first time you've ever discussed your kids. >> yes. >> why. >> early on we had an untournt experience of a guy who heard me talking about my daughter and he threatened her. i've had that debate with a lot of public figures and have said to young people in our business to be careful how much you push your forward children because there are a lot of crazy people in this world who will try to get to you through them. >> how old are they in >> the young zest 22. the others are 25 and 28.